See how NJ cops handled TWO car crashes involving their mayor
RAHWAY — Recently released police video shows how officers responded to two car crashes involving the city’s mayor in August 2016 and March this year.
Neither of the crashes resulted in Mayor Samson Steinman facing criminal charges, although he was ticketed for careless driving.
In the March incident, video shows officers subjecting Steinman to a series of sobriety tests, some of which he has trouble completing.
He was not charged with driving while intoxicated and he was not given a Breathalyzer test because officers on the scene said they did not smell alcohol on him, although they did say he seemed tired and noticed that his speech was a bit slurred.
The second crash prompted Steinman to publicly acknowledge a bipolar diagnosis, which he said may have been a contributing factor in the crashes because he had trouble sleeping.
The city had denied public requests to release the dashcam and police bodycam footage, relying on the criminal investigatory exemption in the state’s public records law.
But a state Supreme Court ruling this month determined the public has a right to access such recordings.
The city provided New Jersey 101.5 with 11 CDs containing the video recordings in the two crashes.
In the August 2016 incident, Samson tells police that he swerved and hit a parked car after seeing what looked like a deer run across the street.
The video shows his city-owned vehicle with a front tire twisted off. The officers are heard discussing taking Steinman home.
In the March footage, Steinman tells police that he lost control after driving over a “rough patch” or ice on a residential street.
He tells cops that he had been at the Union County Performing Arts Center and had dinner at Cubanu, a local restaurant. He says he was on his way to Quick Chek and then home.
Steinman tells police that he had had no alcoholic drinks that evening. He says he is on several medications, none of which prevent him from driving.
“It seems like your speech is a little slurred. It looks like you’re tired. Did you get enough sleep today?” an officer asks him.
“Uh, no,” Steinman responds.
When Steinman is asked to recite the alphabet from E to P, he inserts the letter N between F and G.
He is able to walk heel to toe, but then says he found it difficult to stand on one leg with the other foot 6 inches off the ground.
While standing on one leg, he’s asked to count 1-one thousand, 2-one thousand, etc. Instead, he counts “6-one thousand, 6-two thousand, 6-three thousand …”
The recordings pick up chatter between the officers.
“He’s talking good, he’s answered every question. Knows the date, where he’s at,” one officer says.
New Jersey 101.5 edited the hours of clips from multiple angles into a 15-minute video so that the public can see how police handled the two accidents.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email email@example.com.